Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Muskegon Lumberjacks - draft recap

After selecting 14 promising players during the 2011 United States Hockey League Entry Draft on Monday, there’s no time for rest for the Muskegon Lumberjacks’ coaching staff.

“It’s time to turn around, put on our hard hats and get ready for tryout camp,” said Jacks head coach Kevin Patrick after the team made its final selection Monday afternoon from the players lounge at the L.C. Walker Arena.

Tryout camp will take place from Monday, June 13, through Sunday, June 19, at the Jacks’ friendly confines. Monday through Wednesday will be invite camp, and the remainder of the days will serve as the main camp. There will be all-star games on Saturday night and Sunday morning before the list of those who made the team will be posted.

With yesterday’s draft in the book, the Jacks will most certainly not be at a lack for candidates to make the squad for next season.

With the sixth pick in the draft, the Jacks selected forward Ryan Lomberg out of Hill Academy in Ontario. Lomberg stuffed the stat sheet for Hill this past season to the tune of 99 points on 52 goals and 47 assists in just 57 games. Fans got a chance to see his impressive set of skills during the inaugural Muskegon Winter Showcase in February.

With their second-round pick, the 21st overall, the Jacks selected Dakota Klecha, who posted 50 points on 28 goals and 22 assists for the Wichita Falls Wildcats of the North American Hockey League last season. The 5-10, 160-pound forward also amassed 248 penalty minutes and has a style that the Musky faithful will most certainly love.

“I can score, I can hit, I can fight and I can shoot,” Klecha said. “I’m 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, but I play like I’m 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds.”

Klecha also got to play with Matt Berry, who led the Jacks with 25 goals last season and is bound for Michigan State University, under longtime coach Chris Coury in the Belle Tire program.

The Jacks picked their first defenseman in the draft in the fourth round with the 51st pick overall in Kevin Schulze. A 5-9, 170-pound product of Hill-Murray High School in Minnesota, Schulze has been on the radar of Jacks scout Chris LaCombe for a long time.

“He’s a great two-way defenseman, and he’s going to be a great locker room guy for the Jacks,” LaCombe said.

LaCombe also battled for the next pick, Ben Walker out of Edina High School, the alma mater of Charlie Taft, who will attend Colorado College after a breakout rookie season with the Jacks. Walker, who’s 5-11 and 175 pounds, was the 81st pick overall has been nicknamed Benny “The Bunny” Walker for his limitless energy.

The Jacks next selected forward Mason Jobst in the seventh round with the 96th selection overall. Jobst was a student of Patrick during a Team USA national camp. He’s 5-6 and 140 pounds and models his game after Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Martin St. Louis.

In the eighth round, the Jacks selected another defenseman, as well as one of seven Michigan players the team picked Monday, when they tabbed Jimmy Davis out of East Kentwood High School. As a senior this past season, Davis spearheaded the team that made the Michigan state hockey quarterfinals. He stands 6 feet and weighs 190 pounds.

“Jimmy’s teammates are going to love him,” Jacks Michigan high school scout and Mona Shores head coach Charlie Link said. “He’s got an incredible amount of skill, but his best asset is he’s a great teammate.”

“He’s a hard-nosed defenseman and has an unbelievable compete level,” Patrick said.

The Jacks wrapped up their participation in the first phase of the draft when they took another Michigan native, Brett D’Andrea, with the 126th pick in the ninth round. A 6-foot, 175-pound forward out of the celebrated Honeybaked program, D’Andrea can’t wait to call Muskegon home.

“I like the weather in the summer, and I like that it’s a small town right on the water,” D’Andrea said. “I like to go fishing. It seems like a close-knit community, just like the town I come from. The fans there know their stuff and it’s going to be a great atmosphere.”

The Jacks resumed their picking during the second phase by selecting forward Vito Aluia with the 186th pick overall in the 13th round. Aluia played under Kyle Krug for Belle Tire’s program last season and is 5-8 and 160 pound.

“He plays the game with a tenacity that everyone is going to love,” Patrick said.

The Jacks selected another forward in Tyler Heinonen in the 14th round with the 201st pick overall. Heinonen is 6-foot and 195 pounds and last played at Delano-Rock High School in Minnesota.

The Jacks picked a third defenseman in the 15th round with the 216th pick overall when they chose Montreal native Austyn Hardie out of College Charles-Lemoyne. Jacks assistant coach Dave Noel-Bernier has had Hardie, a “tough-as-nails, solid defensive defenseman,” on his radar for some time.

The Jacks wrapped up by selecting four forwards. They chose Tyler Murray, a 5-8, 152-pound skater out of the Little Caesars program in the 16th round with the 231st overall pick.

“He’s a very skilled center who plays with tons of energy,” Patrick said.

Next off the board was the 6-2, 190-pound A.J. White, whom the Jacks took in the 17th round with the 246th overall pick. Patrick is excited about White’s versatility. The Jacks picked Noah Batis, a 5-9, 160-pounder out of the Buffalo Regals’ AAA program in the 18th round with the 261st pick overall. The Jacks’ final selection was Omar Mullan, who led Coury’s Belle Tire Midget Major team in scoring last season.

“He works hard, and he gets rewarded,” Patrick said. “He’s consistently in the scoresheet.”

Visit muskegonlumberjacks.com to see the breakdown of all the Jacks’ selections in not just the Entry Draft, but also the recent Futures Draft and last year’s drafts as well.

No comments: